The Lahore High Court on Friday turned down a request to restrain Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Babar Awan from contesting Senate election.
The request was made verbally by a petitioner challenging acceptance of Awan’s nomination papers for Senate elections by the Election Commission. Dr Babar Awan, on Friday, was elected as senator.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the court could not issue a stay order against Awan’s participation till the maintainability of the writ petition against his candidacy was established. Justice Bandial adjourned hearing for further arguments till March 9.
Awan’s counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar argued that on the basis of established principles of law the writ petition was not maintainable.
He said it was liable to be dismissed because it only contained allegations without any conclusive evidence or proof.
He said under Article 225 of the Constitution any dispute relating to election, including questions of eligibility of a candidate, could be decided by the High Court in writ jurisdiction as an election petition before an election tribunal after the election.
Awan’s counsel referred to several judgments from 1970 to 2010 and submitted that in all the decisions of the Supreme and High Courts, it had been decided that in an election matter, disputes should not be allowed to be raised at an intermediate stage as that tended to delay the elections.
Barrister Zafar referred to a case involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in which the Supreme Court had decided that a common citizen did not have a vested right to challenge the acceptance of a candidate’s nomination papers. He argued that the rights of a citizen were adequately protected as he could provide the information regarding a candidate’s disqualification to the relevant returning officer and could even file a writ of “quo warranto” after the election or otherwise approach the Election Tribunal or file an election petition to the relevant speaker or chairman for the member’s disqualification.
Petitioner Advocate Shahid Jami had contended that Babar Awan was not eligible for the office of senator because he had concealed his assets from the Election Commission making himself liable to be declared disqualified.
He said the Election Commission had unlawfully accepted Babar Awan’s nomination papers, ignoring that Awan was a defaulter of agriculture tax, had accumulated illegal assets, had a fake PhD degree and had mocked the judiciary in a contempt of court case in front of the Supreme Court. He submitted that Babar Awan had accumulated assets which did not match up the amount of income tax he had paid.
The petitioner prayed the court to set aside the order of the Election Commission regarding the acceptance of Awan’s nomination papers.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.